Justin Fields to win MVP is a worthy NFL futures bet
Justin Fields rushed for 1,143 yards last year, the second most by a quarterback in NFL history. Photo by Michael Ainsworth/AP.

With an enviable floor as a rusher, Justin Fields is viewed by some as a darling in fantasy football this year. Bettors should be looking at him as an MVP candidate, too.

Fields' passing game needs work, but the Chicago Bears got the quarterback some help this offseason. And the absence of David Montgomery should present further chances for Fields to find the end zone with his legs.

Let's dive in on why Fields has a legitimate shot to win NFL MVP in the 2023 NFL season.

Justin Fields MVP case

The Hurts profile: If Fields is going to win MVP, his path will look more like Jalen Hurts than Patrick Mahomes.

Hurts was the runner-up to Mahomes last year despite finishing 10th in passing yards (3,701) and 14th in passing TDs (22). That's because of what Hurts did on the ground (760 rush yards and a whopping 13 scores).

Fields blew past that rushing production, though, putting up 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns. Also, his 7.1 yards per rush was the best among 100 players with 35-plus carries.

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Justin Fields marketsBetting odds
Over 6.5 rushing TDs-106
Under 6.5 rushing TDs-117
Over 850.5 rushing yards+100
Under 850.5 rushing yards-124
Over 3,700.5 passing/rushing yards-124
Under 3,700.5 passing/rushing yards+100

NFL odds as of 3:00 p.m. ET on 08/23/2023.

Justin Fields MVP odds: +2,200. Click here to bet

With that in mind, we believe Fields' ceiling as a rusher exceeds Hurts both in terms of volume and efficiency. And that's a really good sign.

Reaching the 1,000-yard rushing mark is probably a prerequisite for Fields to win MVP, but we aren't glossing over that feat. He's one of just three QBs ever to hit that milestone (Michael Vick in 2006, Lamar Jackson in both 2019 and 2020).

To follow in the footsteps of Hurts also means finding more lanes to the end zone, though. Thankfully, we have reason to believe in Fields to do just that.

Justin Fields MVP case: The Montgomery factor

More red zone touches should lead to more scores for Fields, right? Here's how the Bears allotted their red zone carries a season ago (per Lineups):

  • David Montgomery: 37 carries, 120 yards, five TDs
  • Justin Fields: 28 carries, 66 yards, five TDs
  • Khalil Herbert: 22 carries, 75 yards, four TDs

Montgomery plays for Detroit now, which means the lion's share of Chicago's red zone carries is up for grabs.

At 6-foot-0, 235 pounds, newcomer D'Onta Foreman could shoulder some of the goal line load. And Herbert (5-foot-9, 212 pounds) is stocky enough to push the pile, too. But there are enough vacated touches to go around.

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All told, Chicago had 93 total red zone carries last season versus just 42 pass attempts, showing a commitment to punch the ball in.

Montgomery leaves behind 201 carries (36.0% of last year's share) and 801 rushing yards (26.6%). Herbert is the obvious replacement to be the No. 1 tailback, but he has never topped 160 carries in college or pro ball.

Fields will absolutely need to stay involved in the ground game, which should be encouraged after his remarkable 2022 campaign.

'Moore' passing production, please

The second-greatest rushing season ever for a QB was only good enough to reap one down-ballot MVP vote. Fields' passing game clearly needs to improve if he’s going to win this award.

Last year, the Bears didn't have a single wide receiver with 500-plus yards. The Ravens were the only other team in that boat.

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Justin Fields marketsBetting odds
Over 11.5 interceptions-105
Under 11.5 interceptions-118
Over 18.5 passing TDs+115
Under 18.5 passing TDs-143
Over 2,900.5 passing yards-106
Under 2,900.5 passing yards-118

NFL odds as of 3:00 p.m. ET on 08/23/2023.

So it makes sense that the front office wanted to get Fields some help, and it did that by trading for bona fide No. 1 receiver D.J. Moore — a five-year vet with three 1,100-yard seasons to his name.

Fields' rushing prowess will prevent him from being among the top volume passers, so he'll need to boost his efficiency. He's already risk-averse, evidenced by the fact he only threw into tight coverage on 9.1% of pass attempts last year (the lowest rate in the league, per NFL Next Gen Stats).

Dealing with a dearth of receiving talent last year was a problem, but some of the onus is on Fields, too.

He ranked 28th among 34 qualified passers in completion percentage over expectation (-2.5%), per rbsdm.com.

That simply has to be better. With Moore, we're hopeful it will be.

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